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Joe Schmidt's Contract Is Likely To Prevent Him From Being Lions Head Coach

Joe Schmidt's Contract Is Likely To Prevent Him From Being Lions Head Coach
By Conor O'Leary
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The Irish rugby nation rejoiced yesterday as news of Joe Schmidt's contract extension as Ireland's head coach was confirmed. Schmidt's new deal will see him continue his role in charge of the national team until 2017 and the Irish and British Lions tour to New Zealand.

This news has immediately seen Schmidt installed as the firm 5/6 favourite to be the head coach of the Lions tour with most bookmakers.

But it's highly likely that this new deal will rule Schmidt out of the running for the job. For the last Lions tour, Warren Gatland was granted a leave of absence from his Welsh national job in 2013. Any Lions head coach would need to take a similar length of time to get ready for the tour.

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Signing a contract that brings him right up to the start of the tour effectively means that the IRFU are unlikely to allow him leave for the Lions gig - given that he wouldn't be back as it currently stands.

This, combined with the knowledge that in theory Gatland is still in charge of the Lions job means that the most Schmidt could be involved is as an assistant role.

It's more likely that Schmidt has his eye on the All Black head coaching role, and their current head coach Steve Hansen's contract expires after the same 2017 Lions tour. The conventional wisdom appears to be that New Zealand will promote from within, although there has been a growing admiration for what Schmidt has done with his time in Ireland from his home country.

Either way, the worry that Ireland could lose their head coach will dissipate until the next time.

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See Also: Joe Schmidt Commits To Ireland In The Long Haul With Contract Extension
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